It was later reopened with limited access until a replica cave was completed in 2001.The reproduction of the cave of Altamira allows visitors to have a more comfortable view of the paintings and even includes some features that cannot be visited in the real cave.
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Scientists used uranium-thorium dating to estimate that the Altamira’s paintings are from 25,000 to 35,000 years old, and were likely painted over thousands of years.
Approximately 13,000 years ago, the entrance to the cave was sealed off due to a rockslide.
This phenomenon preserved the cave’s contents until its eventual discovery in 1879 by archeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola.
The archeologist would claim that the cave’s paintings were Paleolithic in origin.
His declarations about the cave of Altamira provoked a lot of controversy and ridicule because it was believed that prehistoric man was not sufficiently intelligent to produce artwork.
The supreme artistic quality and exceptional state of conservation of the cave paintings led Sautuola to be accused of forgery.
In 1902 other prehistoric cave paintings were found in Spain forcing the scientific society to publically recognize their error.
In 1977, the cave of Altamira was closed to the public because the paintings were being damaged by the carbon dioxide produced by the visitors.
Spain is not only rich in culture and tradition but also in human history.
Some of the earliest human habitants can be traced to regions of Spain where many archeological sites have been discovered.
In particular, the caves of Altamira and Atapuerca are exceptional illustrations of human history and cultural tradition that have given scientists valuable insights to our human heritage.